Royal Windsor Horse Show: Britain Cannot Welcome Human Rights Abusers

by Sayed AlWadaei


The United Kingdom prides itself on upholding human rights, and respecting every individual’s right to speak freely, whilst playing hosts to individuals who condone our moral values, and are guilty of inflicting human rights abuses upon innocent civilians.

We need your help to file a legal complaint with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), against the Royal Windsor Horse Show’s principal partner Land Rover, main Sponsor Rolex, and event organiser HPower Group. These organisations have repeatedly condoned human rights abuses in the Kingdom of Bahrain, by inviting their royal family, namely King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his son, Prince Nasser, who are known proponents of human rights violations.

Who are we? 

Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) is a London-based NGO founded in 2013, in response to the 2011 Arab Uprising. Our mission is to provide Bahraini victims of human rights abuses with support, resources, and justice. In doing so, we advocate for the UK government to speak up for victims in and from Bahrain and pressure Bahraini authorities to ensure the safeguarding of basic human rights principles everyone is rightfully entitled to.

The Case

The Royal Windsor Horse Show is an annual event, widely regarded as part of British tradition and culture. King Hamad of Bahrain and his son Prince Nasser have been invited to attend this event since 2013, and have even sponsored four competitions including the famous ‘King’s Cup’, despite their horrendous reputation of inflicting and overseeing human rights abuses in Bahrain.

During the 2017 event, severe human rights violations were committed inside and outside the showground, as a result of protests against King’s Hamad presence. Both British and Bahraini nationals were victims of these abuses.  Amnesty International, Associated Press and The Guardian reported extensively on the events.

Bahraini authorities unlawfully intimidated Bahraini protesters in the UK, by detaining, interrogating and threatening their family members back in Bahrain for several hours. Simultaneously, in the UK, plainclothes officers presumed to be from Bahraini intelligence,

followed and photographed peaceful protesters throughout the showground, tore banners from their hands, and filmed them as they were escorted away. The harassment did not end there: the same officers also followed British journalists and UK-based activists back to London.

Jason Parkinson, a British freelance journalist, covered the protest during last years event. As a result, he was followed on his way back to London:

“Four men entered my train carriage at Ives, just after the change at Slough on my journey back to Paddington. I recognised three of them as Bahrain security from earlier in the Windsor arena. […] They all looked directly at me, like they recognised me, […]. They were talking very loud about how they can get to anyone and how no one was safe. This was heard by many people in the carriage and people looked visibly worried, even scared.”

Foreign security officers threatening and impunitive behaviour was extremely worrying, and indicates nothing will stop Bahraini authorities from committing human rights abuses on British soil, again.

What are we trying to achieve?

We are extremely disturbed by the renewal of sponsorship for an event linked to Bahrain. A country, which has a dire record of upholding human rights.

We want to hold HPower Group accountable for last years abuses, and pressure Rolex and Land Rover to stop affiliating with Bahrain, starting by withdrawing sponsorship. The broader goal of this campaign is to get King Hamad of Bahrain to cancel his participation in the show, so the UK is no longer associated or responsible for both domestic and international human rights abuses.

How Much Are We Raising?

We are starting with an initial amount of  £3800  to build and submit an open complaint against the three companies mentioned above, to the OECD. Their choices to renew sponsorship for this event shows their poor standards of moral integrity, and incapability of abiding by the international code of  ethical business.

Why Should You Take Part in This Campaign?

Human rights defenders, political dissidents and the general population of Bahrain suffered from extreme abuses such as torture, unfair trials and execution during 2017. These tactics have been used before, but they now stand at an all time high.

In May 2017, before the 2017 Royal Windsor Horse Show took place, 5 NGO’s including BIRD sent an  open letter to Her Majesty The Queen, explicitly outlining examples of human rights abuses occurring in Bahrain. Instead of appropriate UK authorities taking this letter into consideration, which warned them about who they are associating with, they welcomed human rights abusers, again.

We urge you to help us compel HPower Group, Rolex and Land Rover to take responsibility for allowing last year’s abuses, and stop King Hamad from attending the 2018 Royal Windsor Horse Show.

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